Thursday, October 14, 2010
Announcing the arrival of Miss Adria Marie King! (Birth story--long version!)
Tonight is the first time I've sat down in front of my computer with a little "free time" in just about 4 days. I can understand the biblical reference to Mother Mary "pondering these things in her heart" now in a way that never connected before, but now here I sit, Mother Elizabeth, pondering over the happenings of the last 4 days, and the miraculous arrival of our precious little Adria Marie. Even just beginning to let myself reflect brings a surge of love, and passion, and the glimmer of a tear to my eye. This is her birth story, and since it's also my story, every detail seems precious and important. But I won't get my feelings hurt if you just skim. :)
Sunday was October 10, 2010, and I had thought about how cool it would be for Adria to have the birth date 10/10/10. At church that morning I kept making comments about how I was ready for her to come "today"! But that wasn't what God had in store for us. For us it was 10/11/10.
At 1:12 a.m. I had my first real contraction. I mentioned in my previous post that I'd been having Braxton Hicks, and even a few additional "funny feelings", but Monday morning I could tell the real thing from the false. The doctor had mentioned that "I've found that real labor isn't really subtle, and you'll know when it starts", so for the next few hours I experienced my contractions, dozed in and out of sleep, and watched the clock each time the sensation would hit. For about 5 hours they stayed pretty reasonable, and from about 3:00 on I just floated through the cycle of contraction--conscientious relaxation, deep breathing and counting (the relaxation and deep breathing were from the Bradley method, the counting is definitely mine). 8 minutes apart, pretty regularly. Jason had worked Sunday evening, and literally crawled in the bed about 12:30, so I kept working through the beginning stage of contractions with promises to myself, "I'm waking him up at 4", then, when things hadn't changed too much, "well, 4:30 then." Finally at 6:00 he made a noise, and I couldn't help it any longer. I started with my whispered "are you awake?", and getting no response, started to shake his arm. I'd been rehearsing how I was going to tell him I was in labor, but when it came time, I didn't say what I'd rehearsed. "Baby Adria's going to come today" is what actually came out, and he grunted his response, "okay." Obviously not the most impactful choice of words after all. "I've been having contractions for 5 hours at 8 minutes apart" seemed to have a greater impact.
Jason and I had planned out what we wanted to do for a natural and drug free labor and delivery, and had been preparing for a while. We'd educated ourselves with the Bradley books, I'd been doing exercises, and our plan was, we'd labor at home as long as we could (to avoid even the potential for drugs or intervention), and with contractions at 3 minutes apart and 1 minute long, we'd head to the hospital. I labored until 10, 11, or 12 pretty well, but then the contractions started to get more intense and I was praying for 3 minutes apart to come. Still we rode the wave of each contraction, and they kept varying at 3:30 to 5 or 6 minutes apart. When one would start, I'd tell Jason and try to lie very still and calmly, relaxing especially my abdomen, but really my whole body, and I'd focus on very deep calm breaths while the intensity built low in my abdomen to a strong crescendo, and he'd time them, and encourage me to breathe deeply, that I was doing well, and he'd tell me when 10 seconds had passed, 30 seconds, 45 seconds, almost done, is it dissipating yet, etc. We worked together like that for hours, with some contractions almost double the sharp intensity of others, and a few of them were painful enough to make me sick. A call to the doc early on let him know we were in labor, and he affirmed our plan to wait for 3 minutes apart, 1 minute contractions. But around 1:00 p.m., after about 12 hours of labor, the contractions still weren't steady and regular, and my occasional sickness was concerning to both of us. To tell the truth, I just wanted to get to the hospital in case I really couldn't take it. I was thinking about the pain, and it was getting impossible for me to relax through the contractions anymore--all I could do was focus on the numbers and the knowledge that they would follow the predictable pattern we'd established, start our super intense, pull and hold for about 30-45 seconds, start to dissipate and end usually within a minute or a minute twenty, and then I could try to relax between them again. I knew we still had a car ride to get us to the hospital and wasn't sure how I could manage it, so 3 minutes or not, I told him we needed to go. Poor Jason--here was decision time. Did we stick to the plan or go? He hesitated and just asked me if I was sure. I think we were both thinking back to the Bradley book, so I told him, 15 minutes and then we'll go. I didn't want one crazy hesitation to take away all the work we'd already done!
One funny thing about laboring at home is that you don't know where you're at. You don't get those friendly little visits with the updates: "5 cm, 7 cm, you're almost fully dilated", etc. So Jason and I still didn't know where we were at, just that finally the time was right to go. I struggled down the stairs and into the car while Jason grabbed our things and put Max-dog up. He drove carefully, but still the motion of the car on top of the contractions, which now seemed to be coming on top of one another, and which were impossible to relax through now, threatened to overcome me a few times. We stopped in the elementary school parking lot for me to get through one contraction, and made a few laps around the hospital parking lot before we finally wound our way over to the Women's and Children's Pavilion. (We knew where to go, just not how to negotiate the parking lot!) I was seriously worse for wear by this time, and didn't know what the plan was for me while Jason dealt with the car. He escorted me into the entryway where I promptly sat down and had another contraction while he went to get me a wheelchair. Why was it so hard to pick my feet up and put them on the little platform all of a sudden? It seemed like anything not having to do with getting through the contractions was clumsy and difficult now. I still don't know what happened to the car, but he wheeled me through a set of double doors to a desk labeled "Registration" sitting in front of an empty chair. So there I sat in the wheelchair, still working through contractions the best I could, just waiting for them to resume the 3 minute pattern we had been waiting for all morning! Finally Jason got someone to call for a Triage nurse, and we skipped the desk altogether. Jason told the woman we were at 4 minutes 30 seconds, and she began to roll me straight to a labor and delivery room. Finally I'd be able to settle and resume my work! But then for some reason she was told to still take me to Triage first, so as close as I had been (I could have touched the door!), I began to roll away! I felt something strange as we rolled away from the comfy LDR room and into the stinky little Triage exam room, and in Triage, I changed clothes and was told to check to see if my body turned a certain little piece of paper blue. Turns out the funny feeling was my water breaking, and it happened just in time for me to turn the paper blue and get wheeled BACK to my comfy LDR room!
Ha, comfy LDR room! I had just gotten into the bed when things again seemed to change for me--would I ever be able to resume normal labor?? I had a funny contraction that seemed to convulse my whole body--what was happening to me? Jason asked if the Triage nurse could check where I was at, and she answered with a nervous and shaky sounding kind of "sure". I think she may have been in over her head with us--I don't think we were part of her day to day! She never did say where we were at, but with her "this baby is ready to come" she quit messing with the contraction and baby heart rate monitors and all of a sudden it seemed like an explosion of people entered the room. The background "thump, thump, thump" of Adria's heartbeat was the background music to Jason's hand holding and counting--"breathe through it, baby!", and I really was little aware of what else was going on around me! I looked up at one moment to notice most everyone swarming around with some kind of task--one very nice lady helped direct my foot to the stirrup while another kept trying to plug in those dad-blasted monitors, and I even saw that the doctor had arrived. When I spotted an awfully awkward orderly standing around seeming more taken in by the activity than I was, I decided it was time to close my eyes again.
The funny whole-body-convulsing contractions continued, and for a few moments Jason and I continued, bewildered. It finally got through to us that these were PUSHING contractions, and when the Triage nurse had said "this baby is ready to come" what she meant was, this baby is coming now! I saw Jason speak with the doctor briefly through my fog, and before I knew it he was donning gloves and moving to the head of the bed next to the doctor. In his place a very nice blond woman came to hold my hand, and the next thing I knew (body still involuntarily convulsing), the woman at my leg on the left leaned in and told me, "you can deliver this baby on your next contraction." I guess I finally realized me and my body were already pushing the baby out, and I suppose I had already been following the enormous and irresistible urges to push. Between contractions (NOW there's a break in contractions, huh?) there was general calm commentary about how far along we had been at the house, that we had been waiting for 3 minutes, and wasn't it a good thing we'd left to come when we had, and how startling and amazing all of this turn of events had been! There was even a little irony that even now the contractions weren't coming regularly--a fact I was almost embarrassed about, since now we'd all gathered for the big show! Shortly after that though, another contraction began, and I tried to focus on the instructions that were being shouted at me as I just did what my body had already started and what everyone was shouting at me--PUSH! I was still keenly aware of Jason--he was my lifeline and my coach, after all, and I didn't know the rest of these folks--and I realized that it was HE who was performing at the head of the bed, with the careful instruction of the doctor! I was doing everything I could to push the baby, and there was Jason, doing everything he could to help me and to help the baby come out!
I more remember the feeling of Adria crowning, of her little head coming all the way out, followed by her little shoulders and arms than remember seeing it happen. I feel like I opened my eyes in the middle of this whirlwind, and there was my baby, partly brought into the world as I still labored, and I couldn't fathom it. She was really here, she was really out, this work was really bringing her home to us. One final hurrah and she was out and born, and overwhelmed and overcame, I started to cry--hard, body-rocking, overwhelmed tears of joy. I just couldn't make sense of it all, the whole day's events, God's grace and mercy and perfect provision for our labor at home, for leaving when we did to make it to the hospital, for the worst of labor/transition to happen in the car on the way to the hospital, for the delivery to go so quickly and seamlessly, for Jason to get to deliver our child, and for the perfect little body that was laid on my chest, crying right along with me.
Adria Marie King was born at 2:38 p.m. 10/11/10, weighing 8 lbs 3 oz, 20 inches long. We labored at home for 12 hours, and within one hour of arriving at the hospital, and within 3 pushing contractions, she was born! She is strong and beautiful. She is healthy and happy. We are still learning each other, but we are already learning each other. I continue to be surprised at the delight she brings, and how I am newly impressed and taken in each time I get to really observe her. I don't believe in too much perfection in this present world, but am confident in the Lord that she is perfect. Our experience was perfect. Because it was unquestionably from the Lord, bringing our little Adria Marie into this world was perfect.